Friday, May 1, 2015

Part 129


Oh my aching back.  Oh my aching ears.  Oh my busted backside ... gee whiz, so not kidding about that last one for sure.

I like people.  At least I think I do.  I know I used to like people anyway.  Lately I've had some second thoughts about it but I guess they aren't really so bad.  But geez, I think I'm beginning to understand why people would tell me to shut up all the time.

"Don't you ever stop talking DeeDee?"
"DeeDee, I swear if I hear you ask why one more time ..."
"Will you just shut up DeeDee?  You're making my head ache."

Mom and Dad never said it like that but even they got fed up with it sometimes and would give me the eye as if to tell me I was getting on their last nerve.  If I talked half as much as what I had to listen to yesterday and the day before ... holy smokes, it is a wonder someone just didn't shove something in my mouth to find a little peace and quiet.  I know Toddie threatened to duct tape me to the wall a few times so I couldn't follow him around and talk his ears off ... he did it once too when I was little but Dad just about grounded him for life for that one.

Maybe I've changed more than I thought.  Maybe it hasn't just been the usual growing up stuff that I've done.  Maybe it hasn't just been my body.  Maybe I've changed a lot more than that ... the deep down "me" part has changed.  Maybe it isn't just my body that Dad and Mom wouldn't recognize.  Then again, maybe I haven't changed so much as everything around me has changed.  Oh forget it.  Carpy guacamole, thinking philosophical isn't going to do anything but make my head feel worse and that I definitely don't need.  Have enough on my mind without adding to it.

Leaving base was like being in a much practiced Chinese fire drill.  On the one hand everything looked and felt chaotic.  The good bye's, love you's, stay safe's, the sour faces, the resigned faces, the fresh faces both fearful and excited at the same time, the bodies and equipment packed together just begging for a little space to move and breathe.  On the other hand it somehow worked like a well-oiled machine with everyone knowing their place and sticking to it.  I followed Sgt. Shelly and the other women, doing my best to not knock into anyone while I pedaled the monstrosity I'm now responsible for, and we got to a transport where the supply bike was loaded so that it faced the rear of the truck.  Four patrols went on one transport; four hot dog stands and twenty personnel.  I was the first one loaded and I later understood that it was so all of the others were out of the way when I came off the ramp and so that I could watch how the disembarkation process went ... or at least how it was supposed to work.

Our unit and two others left base.  Three units with five patrols in each unit, five people in each patrol.  Since four patrols fit on one transport that meant there were five trucks per unit, times three units, equals fifteen transport trucks in the convoy.  We actually had twenty trucks though; an extra for interim resupply, a communication trailer, a water truck, a fuel truck, and another a weird looking disaster relief tractor trailer that was going to act as headquarters for some kind of administrative slash hospital thingie that was supposed to create good will.

Normally only two units cycle out of base every week but things were being changed up and no one seemed particularly happy about it and that is what caused most of the noise I had to listen to.  Josie in particular seemed to find fault with the entire thing.

"We've been working just fine for months.  Had it down to clockwork.  Now, right in the face of a mess of infecteds, they gotta change it up and make things more complicated.  Do we need complicated?  I don't think so."

Blah, blah, blah.  Even Lucy looked like she was losing her happy-go-lucky disposition after a whole day of listening to it.

It might be late April but there is still a chill to the air that I don't care for; it is a different kind of cold than I'm used to, dryer so that it bites before you realize it.  The air makes your skin feel like freeze dried corn in no time.  I wasn't the only one turning up my collar and turning down the ear guards on my semi-regulation cap.  It seems cooks are allowed to change their hats a little bit for food safety reasons.  The one thing cooks aren't allowed to alter are these bogusly stupid hair nets we have to wear.  I was ready to scream because mine kept getting tangled when Josie finally took pity on me and taught me how to take a long piece of cloth and wind my hair up the way Caribbean women do.  It still feels really strange but my hair is out of my eyes, safe from getting into the food, and I hope maybe it stays cleaner this way too since a shower isn't likely something to be had until RNR time.  Peeee-uuuuuu.  I don't know which is going to be worse, me or my laundry.

I got stuck being the only female cook. Naturally.  My three male companions were just lovely and ducky.  Their personalities were just rosy and glowing.  And if you believe that there used to be a bridge in Brooklyn that I know I could sell to you.

I mean seriously, can Limmer get any crankier?  All I did was ask him how he packed the supplies.  I figured he'd been doing this like forever and was senior to the other two male cooks and that he'd be someone good to learn from.  Yeah right.

"I'm gonna tell you right now before God and everybody ... you don't belong.  You shouldn't be here.  I don't want you near me.  You're gonna get someone kilt."

Irritated I let fly with the first thing I could think of.  "A kilt is something a Scottish guy wears."

Well, it made Josie and Lucy laugh.  Gayle bit her lips and Sgt. Shelly just rolled her eyes but none of them got involved.  I guess at some point I've got to be able to prove that I can hack it and that moment was the beginning of it.

"You a smart ass on top of everything else," Limmer snapped.

I shrugged.  "Of course I am.  I thought with you being a senior cook and all that I could learn something useful from you but if you're going to be stingy with your smarts then I guess not.  On the other hand I heard you gotta earn respect in this outfit and calling me names isn't going to exactly earn you any from me.  I'll just figure it out on my own.  Thanks anyway."

He started cussing me but that kind of stupid is easy to ignore, especially when I set my mind to observing what I could about the other hot dog carts.

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